LibreOffice 7.4 Improves Microsoft Compatibility • The Registry

A little over six months after version 7.3, LibreOffice 7.4 Community has been released and offers improvements in Microsoft Office compatibility.

File compatibility has long been a significant obstacle for users and businesses looking for an alternative to Microsoft’s ubiquitous productivity suite.

“Microsoft files are still based on the proprietary format rejected by ISO in 2008, rather than the ISO-approved standard, so they hide a large amount of artificial complexity.” sniffed the LibreOffice crew. “This leads to handling problems with LibreOffice, which uses a true open standard format (the OpenDocument format) by default.”

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There are many Microsoft Office documents, hence a significant number of optimizations in the version aimed at users who share documents in Microsoft’s formats. “These users should regularly check for new versions of LibreOffice,” the team noted, “since progress is so rapid that each new version improves dramatically over the previous one.”

Aside from pure compatibility, there are a lot of improvements in the release. The Calc spreadsheet application now supports 16,374 columns. Among the numerous changes there is a launch of document themes in Impress and support for WebP images. Text layout performance for cases like PDF export has also been improved. The GUI remains familiar, although there is experimental dark mode support for Windows 10 and 11.

On the way out is FTP which is deprecated and will be removed in the future.

We looked at LibreOffice 7.3 when it surfaced earlier this year, and we’re pleased that The Document Foundation (TDF) has continued with incremental improvements to lure users away from Microsoft Office and provide a useful solution on platforms where Microsoft has yet to impose its productivity suite.

If you’re a die-hard Office fan, this probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re just banging out some text in Word or arguing some numbers in Excel, we must recommend you take a look.

The version runs on Windows 7 SP1 and macOS 10.12 and will eventually happily make its way into your Linux distribution of choice (although recent images can be downloaded for the impatient). Version 7.3.5 also remains available and although it lacks the very latest features it has obviously seen more testing from users.

7.4 is also a community edition, and TDF urged companies to consider LibreOffice Enterprise. However, it found that many companies are eschewing the ecosystem company-maintained LTS versions in favor of the volunteer-supported version.

“Over time,” she warned, “this poses a problem for the sustainability of the LibreOffice project because it slows down its development.”

However, judging by version 7.4, LibreOffice seems to be in the best of health. According to TDF, it is “the ideal solution for companies that want to regain control of their data and free themselves from vendor lock-in.” ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/08/19/libreoffice_7_4/ LibreOffice 7.4 Improves Microsoft Compatibility • The Registry

Laura Coffey

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